Derry mother helps to set-up cancer support group for children

The Harkin family, pictured from left to right, mum Patricia, Faith, Jamie and dad Damien (Dee).
The Harkin family, pictured from left to right, mum Patricia, Faith, Jamie and dad Damien (Dee).

A Derry mother whose son was diagnosed with cancer when he was 11 years-old is helping to set-up a cancer support group for families and children affected by cancer.

Patricia Harkin’s eldest child, Jamie, who is now 16 years-old, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2011 and said at the time of Jamie’s diagnosis help and support was not readily available.

As a mother watching your child go through something as cruel as cancer is absolutely heart-breaking

Patricia Harkin

“As a mother watching your child go through something as cruel as cancer is absolutely heart-breaking,” said Patricia.

As a result of her son’s illness Patricia developed a close relationship with a woman from Belfast called Gaye Kerr whose twin children, Helen and Brian, died as a result of the same cancer-related genetic disorder.

Gaye Kerr has founded the group ‘Angel Wishes’.

‘Angel Wishes’ has been set-up to help and support families and children affected by cancer and the group will be officially launched at the Gasyard Centre on the Lecky Road on Monday April 6.

“I decided to put a post up on Facebook to let the people in Derry and the North West know what we were doing with ‘Angel Wishes’.

“I couldn’t believe the reaction it got. I only put the call out a few weeks ago but, within a few days, my hall at home was full of toys donated by people who wanted to help out.”

One of the main focuses of the launch in the Gasyard Centre next month is to provide parents of children with cancer with all of the information they need under the one roof.

There will also be a children’s fun-day at the event and it will run from 2pm to 4pm.

“The one thing my husband Damien and I found difficult when Jamie was diagnosed with cancer was just how hard it was to find all of the information and support needed to cope,” said Patricia.

Patricia’s son, Jamie, is a pupil at Lumen Christi College, and he echoed the sentiments of his mother.

“There’s absolutely no support out there for children with cancer. If I didn’t have such a loving and supportive family I don’t know what I would have done.

“I think what my mum and others are doing with the launch of ‘Angel Wishes’ is amazing because the only way is up for children affected by cancer,” he said.

At the launch of ‘Angel Wishes’ there will also be a party and the children will receive presents.

“If anyone would like to donate a present for one of the children all they have to do is contact me on Facebook,” said Patricia.

If you would like to attend the launch of the ‘Angel Wishes’ children with cancer support group contact either Danielle or Linda on 028 7126 2812.